The Swing Does NOT Start From The Ground & Move Up?

http://hittingperformancelab.com/the-swing-does-not-start-from-the-ground-move-up/
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Now Your Hitters Can Have Power Without Starting The Kinetic Chain At The Feet

I briefly viewed a hitting instructional video on YouTube the other day that one of my readers sent me (Thanks Joe),

…I won’t share who did the video, so as not to cause any embarrassment.

Like what was being illustrated in the video, I would say a majority of hitting instructors both online and off swear that the swing starts from the ground up.

This IS NOT what the current research shows as validated by human movement science.

Yes, Gravitational and Gravitational Reaction Forces do have their place (and we’ll get to that)…my point is, ALL human movement DOES NOT start from the ground, and work it’s way up the Kinetic Chain.

What I have for you above, is a snippet of video about 5-minutes long, explaining where the swing starts as explained by Dr. Serge Gracovetsky, Physicist, Electrical Engineer, and founder of The Spinal Engine.

Here are some talking points that Dr. Gracovetsky mentions in the video (please WATCH video at the 2:00 minute mark to about the 7:00 minute mark):

  • There’s a lack of agreement in literature at what the function of the spine is.
  • Spine is generally believed to be a supporting column linking shoulders to pelvis…as we walk the trunk is thought to be carried passively by the legs.  Problem with this: WHY is shape of spine in form of an “S” instead of being straight? – straight column would support compressive loads better than a curved one right?
  • Consider 20-year-old male subject who has reduced arms and no legs…moves on his Ischium.
  • If it was true that legs are necessary for human locomotion, then a person with such an anatomy would not be able to walk.
  • With the bottom of the screen hidden [while the subject “walks” across the floor], it is impossible to tell that this man has no legs.
  • Locomotion was first achieved by movement of the spine, and the legs came after as an improvement, not a substitute.
  • When providing a lateral bend to a curved spine (lordosis), an axial torque is induced. The rotation of the pelvis and shoulders is driven by the spine.

And this is the basis for my The Catapult Loading System book on sale at Amazon.

So does the swing, or any human movement for that matter, start from the ground up?  In other words, are Gravitational Forces a necessity to move the Spinal Engine or merely an enhancement?

In an email conversation I had with Dr. Serge Gracovetsky a few years back, he said this about the relationship between gravity and spine engine mechanics:

The coupled motion has nothing to do with gravity. It works in space as well. It is a property of the spine or any flexible rod for that matter.  But the interaction with gravity makes interesting results which are exploited by every sport.”

Okay, since we’ve determined human movement DOES NOT start from the ground and go up the Kinetic Chain, I want to share a couple snippets from Dr. Gracovetsky about what role Gravitational Forces do play in dynamic movement…

Here’s a note about the importance of the heel strike in locomotion from Dr. Serge Gracovetsky in his book, The Spinal Engine (p. 168):

“…the compressive pulse generated at heel-strike is essential to the locomotion process.  The shape of this pulse must be very specific if maximum energy is to be transferred from the earth’s gravitational field to the rotating pelvis.”

According to Dr. Gracovetsky, while running, our heel hits the ground creating a compressive force that is equaled to NINE-times our body weight.  Gravity pulls our body down, and at heel strike, the ground pushes back in a compressive force.

This is why it has been demonstrated by Speed Coach Barry Ross that runners who dead-lift heavy weights with a low time under tension, get faster!  They’re able to push into the ground with more force, which in turn, the ground pushes back with equal and opposite force.

It’s also worth noting about the Spinal Engine while walking on sand versus solid ground…

Dr. Serge Gracovetsky offers this example in his book (pgs. 168-169),

“Running or walking on soft sand is not easy and is very tiring,  In this particular case, the energy leaks into the sand, the impact force is reduced, and the compressive pulse through the spine is attenuated [disabled] as the total energy recovered is reduced.”

The compressive force is softened by the sand, which doesn’t allow the pelvis to turn using efficient spine engine mechanics.  To maneuver, the brain has to recruit big muscles to do the work.  This is why you get a workout walking on sand…it’s powerless effort, rather than effortless power.

Does current research, that’s validated by science, say human movement starts from the ground, and travel up the Kinetic Chain?

No.

The trunk isn’t just a passive structure that is carried by the legs.  Legs are not a necessity to human movement – evidenced by the legless subject in the video – they’re an enhancement.  The Spinal Engine can work in space!  I say the legs and arms amplify the movement of the Spinal Engine.

Do Gravitational Forces play a role in human movement?

Yes!

Like Dr. Gracovetsky says, “…the interaction with gravity makes interesting results which are exploited by every sport.”

That my friends is a human movement principle that is validated by science.  Not philosophy or theory.  This is why my new book The Catapult Loading System is so powerful to hundreds of coaches and tens of thousands of hitters across the US… (just check the reviews 😉

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Joey Myers

I’m a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), the International Youth and Conditioning Association (IYCA), and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).I’m also a HUGE supporter of the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

I’ve spent 11+ years in the corrective fitness industry, and have too many alphabet-soup certifications to bore you with.I also played four years of Division One baseball at Fresno State from 2000-2003.

It’s NOT how you study, but what you study that counts.I apply human movement principles (or rules), validated by science, to hitting a baseball and softball.
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8 Comments

  1. Joe

    As Lee Corso says on ESPN’s College Game day Show when predicting the outcomes of college football games, “Not so fast, young man.”

    YOU’RE WRONG, JOEY!

    No, the swing doesn’t start from the ground up. And it doesn’t start from the spine either. IT STARTS IN THE BRAIN! 😉

    The question is how. It has been estimated that a hitter has just 0.4 seconds to react to a 94 mph fastball. Swinging the bat at a 94 mph fastball is not a voluntary movement. A hitter does not consciously swing the bat as if one is deciding to pick one’s leg up to step forward (though that soon becomes an unconscious act) or flip a light switch on or off. Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet demonstrated that the brain orders the movement prior to when one becomes conscious of the movement.

    As far as the swing goes, a batter swings before he is aware that he has swung. Different components of the upper and lower parts of the brain are involved in such a complicated process that enables a hitter to swing at, and hopefully hit, a 94 mph fastball (no time or space to delve into that here). Benjamin Libet would say that a hitter’s unconscious brain initiates such behavior before the hitter realizes that he is actually swinging.

    So, as to what initiates the swing? It is certainly not the ground. Nor is it the spine. It is the brain – both the conscious and unconscious parts, but mostly the latter. You’re not wrong in that the spine, not the legs and the ground, initiates the swing but the brain, through the peripheral nervous system, sets the sequence in motion by igniting the spinal engine.

    • Joey Myers

      Joe, great point!! You’re absolutely correct. It’s a combination of hardware and software. In this post, I’m talking about the physical aspect, but as Tony Robbins says, success is 80% psychology, and 20% mechanics. Great comment brother!

  2. Joe

    Joey,

    Thanks. I hope you realize that I was just busting chops. No negative criticism intended. Maybe indirectly pushing my MROH, though. 😉

  3. Djura

    What it’s not the ground up Joey!!! Say it’s not so…

    It’s a system right…and a magic trick!!! In fact if you understand the system than the question of where it starts isn’t important unless your unaware of how the system works….

    The fact is if you have or put yourself into a position of strong hands and strong feet and further you know how to smoke… your good… well kind off…you must know how to position your rib cage along with the rest of it…the question is like aways… what are YOU AWARE of… as Joey knows I always said be careful of the physics and be careful of a chain and of the ground up model…

    To start… what does strong hands mean… and what does strong feet mean…It doesn’t mean your fingers can crush rocks in your hand…

    Also saying it’s from the ground up implies there is one chain… is THAT true…And what is a chain…

    What if there are multiple swings than how does one ground up cover two swings….What if it’s all about tension and speed… can you feel tension…can you realize the speed…is speed moving fast or POSITIONING yourself to move fast…

    It’s like magic… it’s right there…And what if…

    And follow this one…What if MOST athletic moves are the same but just oriented differently and perhaps different in amplitude…Sometimes it’s hard the see something when YOU already think for culturally reasons that two things are different…

    Question how many confined themselves for years to the ground up model…

    Great article Joey….Hope all is well…

    By the way, I know you compared expensive bats to general bats… have you looked into balanced and end-loaded… I hate balanced bats what say you????

    Thanks brother…

    Later…

    ~DM

  4. Djura "Judo"

    Seriously… I get no feedback from anyone……..

    Joe… are you speaking of the GO moment….

    As to the spine engine… i never liked that term nor how it’s used…. For me the “spine engine” is no more than a complicated 3-dimensional spring with mechanical attachments… I know the medical industry would kill me but that notion just simplies it for me in a mechanical aspect…And I know there are chemical, nerves… etc…transmission and communication to the spine… but I think the fact that the fascia has more nerves than muscle will start changing idea once full investigation of how fascia operates in our body is exhausted… all I know is correcting my alignment in the past 8 months have shown me things that blows my mind…

    So Joe… i think sometimes we calculate really fast… and if we know what we are doing and put us in the right position it may appear or in fact act like we are not even thinking… but I respectfully disagree… I think we have to practice it and just get the correct alignment to hit… so this is why I asked… what is speed… I know it sounds like I’m pulling your leg… but is it how fast something goes from point a to b… how bout this… what is speed in a vacuum, the vacuum being the high level baseball swing…So for me it’s your always thinking…

    Let me give you an example… as a kid I never hit off a tee… so the first time I did was as an adult when I bought my son his first tee…Well… I sucked… it felt strange and I felt ( huh… feel) like everything was wrong….So my sensors were telling me something is wrong…..

    There a video of Ronaldo doing a sports science experiments… one of them was doing headers… they ended up putting Ronaldo against average Joe… doing headers… than the last experiment was kicking the corner and turning off the lights… Ronaldo still got the ball in the goal because he anticipates (guesses) because he saw a fraction of the ball and knows the angles the sound of the kick and the spin of the ball… I bet soccer players don’t see the ball hit there head ( is there a baseball equivalent ?)….

    At the end we know exactly what we are doing… at this point high level hitters know it by feel… they got that feel by practicing… the feel includes using your hands to navigate your shoulders which becomes your eyes… It’s complicated… but if you PUT yourself in the best position to hit a ball… the speed is badass… but don’t let the speed confuse you to how you hit… your always thinking and at the the end the baseball swing is one thing and timing is another…. If you have the swing than you have to know how to guess…

    So there is the swing and the timing… but there’s also the TOUCH part… I spoke of the touch before… if you throw the bat as I know some doctors on the internet teach your missing the touch AT THE LEAST… but you can throw it but you have to include the TOUCH….

    At any rate… yea… I guess your right with the brain starts it but that puts us in no mans land… it’s really like Ronado kick… your anticipation to what your looking at… And obviously you can’t hit the ball with your eyes or CAN YOU???? By the way the answer is YOU CAN but you need to know how too.. I already noted it…Lime I said I would not throw the bat head as some doctors teach but you can throw it if you know how but it’s not an universal or absolute que….

    At the end OF COURSE you think and know what your doing when hitting a ball… yea you program yourself… BUT the key is you do it so the speed of your anticipation matches the speed of your movement… who cares how fast the bat goes… it’s like what’s your bat speed… ahhhh… my bat speed… I don’t know and care less I hit lasers…

    Again… most if not all athletic moves or at least the popular moves, swinging, kicking, throwing, jumping are almost the same and work from the same complicated spring…Most have a loading, a touching and the explosion of some sort…

    I’m not going to give it up but nobody talks about or even notes the touching part of the swing….It’s one of those things that if talked to a pro and explained it they look at you and say… hey that’s exactly right… I never thought about it… and i think… well you never thought about it how I framed it but explain the feel and they’ll say… yep I always feel that… and than you say so you do think (incorporate) it but in terms of feel…

    Alright… I don’t usually do this… point out a particular statement and argue it… but Joey you’ve said feel isn’t real… all I would add is it’s like what you see…It’s not a matter of your eyes playing tricks on you or your nerves playing tricks on you… it’s a matter of what your aware of… with the eyes I think anybody following Joey knows the eyes can play tricks on you… and all I say is your nerves can also play tricks on you… but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that what you see is not real or what you feel is not real…

    It’s more of do you know what your looking at and do you know what your feeling…And the 2nd part is really complicated…

    At the end if you don’t know what your looking that’s an issue… if you do t know what your feeling… that’s an issue… most high level hitters, if Im allowed to ASSUME, understand how to hit mostly through feel and most likely from a very young age… and just figure out or just say what sounds good when communicating what they see…

    Alright seriously this is a blog… I’m sure somebody is interested or see a bunch of mistakes…

    Shoot I just called the spine a complicated spring and said feel is extremely important and indirectly called my hands my eyes…. I’m figuring that to many I sound like I’m from MARS….

    Joey sorry to disagree but I’m trying to engage in an intellectual baseball swing conversation…The fact is I really don’t know how many derive there conclusions…

    And JOE… auto mode is no more than positioning yourself to be fast to go along with your anticipation is my thought… that is why many can’t go into auto mode… people usually only think of great hitters as hitting without thinking… but we all think it’s just that if your swing sucks you just have to make up your mind faster… which gives the illusion that the high level hitter is not thinking…but if you have the right swing you can guess later while having an awesome swing… It’s 2 fold… and gives the illusion that your not thinking…. if your all set up it’s all in your hands…as the hands are your eyes so enough of the hands are along for the ride nonsense… everything is a system and once we hit the ball everything goes along for the ride…

    If you know how to load, touch and compress ( punch works for me but is a bad que as Joey pointed out before inTerms of absolutes) the ball… than your on your way to focusing on timing as your swing is done….And for me, what I’ve seen is kids instructed to swing in order to time the hitting which kills the swing… there’s an order… swing first timing second but you can do both but not the other way around..

    Shit… I did it again Joey… OCD sucks… sorry Joey… I hope you find my angles interested and if you don’t let me know as I’ll stop…

    ~Hope all is well…

    ~DM